It is election day in the UK tomorrow, and a chance to vote for who we want to represent us in Parliament, and ultimately who we want to lead our country into the future. A month ago we could probably have said with some degree certainty who the winner would be and by how much, but now that certainty is gone. The gap has narrowed and we’re not entirely sure what direction the country will take from Friday morning onwards.
There could still be a majority Government for the Conservative Party, or they could lose that majority and seek to form a Coalition Government, or even try to make it work on their own. It is not completely out of the question that the Labour Party could win.
For many countries over the last few decades, the election of a new government has arguably resulted in very little noticeable change. The policies of our leading parties may vary slightly, but it hasn’t usually made a substantial difference to us or our organizations.
Politics is changing though, and the leading parties all over the world are moving further apart on the political spectrum. You only have to look to the US and French Presidential Elections to observe the deep divides that are appearing between political parties and across the population.
The UK is no different. Given the current split between the Conservative and Labour Parties, the outcome could determine whether we will have more years of austerity and the privatisation of public services, or whether we will have increased public spending and nationalisation. It could determine whether we have a soft Brexit, a hard Brexit, or perhaps even no Brexit at all. The impact will not just be felt in the UK, but all across the European Union and perhaps even further afield.
It is this uncertainty that puts business continuity professionals in their element – being able to analyse what the possible outcomes could be, what impact they could have on the organization and what mechanisms could be put in place to prevent them from becoming an issue.
Whenever an election does occur, whether it is in your organization’s home country, or one it does business with, business continuity professionals should be studying the manifestos of the major parties to consider how much of an impact the different policies could have on their organization.
Will there be more or less regulation? Will there be more or less public spending? Will there be more or less interference from Central Government? Whatever the answer to these questions, our organizations will have to consider the appropriate responses. These considerations should also go beyond the direct impact of the policies, and also consider the unintended consequences, for example, will certain policies result in increased protester activity that could lead to disruption.
We cannot predict the future, and in countries where there are free and democratic elections, there is no way of knowing for certain what the outcome of those elections will be, but we can prepare for it. We can ensure that our organizations are more resilient to the changes that may come about as a result.
If our organizations are to achieve continued growth, then they must be adaptable to change, wherever that change may come from. They must be able to overcome uncertainty, wherever that uncertainty lies. And they must be prepared for the future, whatever it holds.
Executive Director of the Business Continuity Institute.